May 23

Victory! Boy Scouts of America takes a step forward with new gay membership policy

Today, the Boy Scouts of America National Council voted to approve a new policy prohibiting discrimination against gay youth members. The decision, which passed at 61%, by the Boy Scouts is an important step forward, but is just one small step in a much longer journey for Scouting.

For 13 years, The Inclusive Scouting Network has worked to promote a Scouting movement that is open to all and closed to none, regardless of sexual orientation and religious belief. Today’s victory could not have been possible without your support. Because of your hard work and willingness to speak out for inclusion, we can celebrate this historic decision reversing decades of wrongs against gay Scouts. But, we will not rest until Scouting is a safe and equal place for all people.

Starting in January, gay and bisexual Scouts across the country will be free from the fear of being kicked out, but only while they are youth members. Upon transitioning into adult leadership, youth who proudly served as Scouts will be shown the door. Friends, our work is no where near done.

We have a tremendous amount of work to do to ensure the Boy Scouts implement appropriate policies and safeguards against bullying and harassment before their policy goes into full effect next year.

Discrimination on any level is unacceptable. You know this. We know this. America knows this. Let’s continue to work toward the day when Boy Scout leaders, too, finally begin to respect and honor every member of their Scouting family.

You can begin to make a difference today: Wear our Inclusive Scouting Award to show your fellow Scouts and Scouters that you support a Scouting movement free from fear and discrimination. We will create safer spaces for all Scouts one person at a time. Visit our store to get your Inclusive Scouting square-knot patch and start wearing it proudly today.

Want to do more to help us move forward? Fill out our volunteer form to sign up for our email list and volunteer opportunities, or make a financial contribution to help us continue our work. Your assistance will be instrumental in continuing this movement, creating educational resources, providing resources to local troops and councils and helping us promote our message of inclusive Scouting.

May 22

Boy Scouts National Prez Wayne Perry supports resolution on gay youth members

Writing for USA Today, Boy Scouts of America National President Wayne Perry says he supports the proposed resolution changing the Scouts’ membership policies to allow openly gay and bisexual youth.

“No matter what your opinion is on this issue, America needs Scouting, and our policies must be based on what is in the best interest of our nation’s children,” Perry wrote in an op-ed today.

Perry also addressed wildly irrational and inaccurate claims from opponents of the proposed policy changes.

“Some have voiced concerns that this proposal could put children at risk of being abused,” Perry wrote. “The BSA makes no connection between sexual abuse and homosexuality.”

The Inclusive Scouting Network welcomes Perry’s position and thanks him for his op-ed. As we have for the past 13 years, we’ll keep raising awareness of important issues of exclusion and discrimination in Scouting until the day when all people — regardless of age, sexual orientation and religious belief — are treated fairly and equally in this iconic program.

You can read Perry’s full USA Today op-ed here…

Be sure to follow the Inclusive Scouting Network here on our website, on Facebook and on Twitter for updates from our Equal Scouting Summit with Scouts For Equality.

May 21

Veteran professional Scouter: Shame on Boy Scouts for abandoning gay youth in need

Bruce “Trip” McMillan, a 37-year veteran professional Scouter currently living in Charlotte, N.C., has a message for the Boy Scouts of America: He supports the proposed resolution on gay youth members, and you should, too.

“Shame on us as a movement,” McMillan says, “if we continue to abandon ‘one of our boys’ at perhaps the most difficult moment of their life.”

The former professional Scouter took to Facebook on May 20 to tell his friends and family that he supports the Boy Scouts of America’s proposed gay youth membership policy, just three days before the group’s National Council is set to vote on a new membership policy on gay youth.

McMillan, a self-described “foot stomping, glory halleluiah, [sic] shouting, Bible believing, Born again Evangelical Christian,” also has a message about discrimination and exclusion for his fellow Christians: “EVANGELICAL FRIEND, this is so wrong and I struggle deeply to believe this is what God would have us do,” he says.

The Inclusive Scouting Network believes McMillan’s message, which we’ve reprinted in its entirety below, represents the views of many current and former Scouts, Scouters, Scout parents and friends of Scouting. We don’t necessarily agree with everything he has to say; such is to be expected in a movement as large and as diverse as Scouting. Yet, we respect McMillan’s unique perspectives, his diversity of thought and his willingness to stand up for gay youth. We know there are many people just like McMillan who hold sincere personal and religious beliefs on matters of sexuality and who are also able to understand the importance of protecting young people from exclusion and discrimination.

In short, McMillan exemplifies the best and truest values of the Scout Oath and Law.

McMillan retired as the Area 4 director for the Northeast Region of the Boy Scouts of America in 2012. A Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, McMillan’s Scouting career began in 1975 as a district executive in Wayne, N.J, after which he served as Scout executive in councils Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Click here to read McMillan’s full message of support for the proposed gay youth membership policy.

Continue reading

Feb 25

In the News

Tax Break For Boy Scouts Who Don’t Discriminate – A newly proposed California law would end tax breaks for organizations that discriminate if passed.

Letter: Gays leading Boy Scouts? An unimaginable moral affront – (TC Palm) Letter writer has the vapors over proposed change; cites Sodom, Gomorrah, and the fall of the Roman Empire.

Susquehanna Valley United Way ‘pauses’ Boy Scout contribution until homosexual policy settled – The decision to ‘pause’ funds going towards the Susquehanna Valley BSA Council was decided in a unanimous vote Friday. They will hold the funding until the policy is changed to be non-exclusionary of gay members and leaders.

Once upon a time, slavery was the rule of the day, women couldn’t vote and ‘separate but equal’ was okay. There comes a day when we have to change our policies that are exclusionary.

California lawmaker hopes tax bill will break Boy Scouts – (World Mag) SB323 seeks to revoke tax exemption status for youth groups that do not comply with CA non-discriminatory laws, but Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute says it’s the BSA that being discriminated against.

“If they are successful in this … then the next step is to try to strip away tax exemption from churches as well,” Dacus said. “It is part of the radical homosexual rights movement, it’s to punish and silence those who have a religious belief that does not embrace and accept homosexuality.”

Letter: Boy Scout oath is clear on morality – (Herald-Dispatch.com) Letter cites homosexuality as morally wrong as defined by the bible: Also, refers to Sodom and Gommorah.

Opinion: Across the spectrum – Boy Scout discrimination must end – (The PAW Providence Academy)

The problem with the supporters’ arguments, however, is simple: the Boy Scouts’ current policy is discriminatory. Although religious leaders are right in stating that their moral beliefs condemn homosexuality, they’re wrong in thinking that those beliefs justify treating gays as second-class citizens.

Can You Renounce Your Eagle Scout Award – (SF Weekly) Many Eagle Scouts have sent in their awards and renounced their status with the BSA, but what does this really mean?

So it’s clear that Eagle Scouts can send their regalia to BSA HQ. But does this mean you’re no longer an Eagle Scout? That answer is no.

Feb 19

Discrimination hurts Scouting and Scouts Alike

Throughout this policy debate, most time is spent discussing discrimination’s affect on those it acts on: gay scouts and adult leaders. Obviously this policy causes us emotional trauma and pain, however we are not the only victim of Scouting’s exclusivity. In fact, one of the largest victims of this gay ban is the Boy Scouts of America themselves. Scouting’s resources and public image have been seriously harmed by their discriminative policy, which detracts from their ability to offer a strong program to their 2.7 million members.

The Boy Scouts of America is only successful due to the great work done by hundreds of thousands of volunteer leaders. These amazing individuals come from all backgrounds, religions and lifestyles to teach leadership and Merit Badge skills. In fact, without such diversity, it would be impossible to find volunteers proficient in the more than 120 Merit Badges offered by the BSA. In the same way, the great diversity in scouts exposes youth to new ways of thinking, and teaches them the importance of diversity and celebrating differences rather than fearing them. By banning gay scouts and leaders, we lose thousands of potential leaders and scouts who have amazing things to share with our organization and its youth.

To highlight this fact, I opened up the BSA’s National Youth Leadership Training Syllabus, which features a training titled “Valuing People.” In this 50 minute presentation, Scouts learn that people differ many different ways, including religion, race, gender, age, physical appearance, etc. The learning goals of the training include:

  • Understanding that the Scout Oath, the Venturing Oath, and the Scout Law guide us in valuing other people.
  • Recognizing that both the similarities we share with others and our differences can help groups be stronger.
  • Seeing that we have a responsibility to act in an ethical manner in our dealings with people whose core values differ from our own. 
However, for some reason, none of the above applies to homosexuals, who are never mentioned in the presentation. The BSA acknowledges that diversity is good for group development, yet at the same time teaches Scouts not to associate with gays. It weakens their message and brands them as hypocrites. I have been present at this presentation many times while staffing NYLT, and every time I have been asked about gays. In fact, until recently, the BSA included a disclaimer at the end of the presentation that says if scouts ask about the ban on gays, an adult should take over and explain that none of the above applies because the gay lifestyle is self destructive. Under that logic, we should ban scouts and leaders that smoke as well. After all, scientific evidences can actually prove how harmful that is. They fail to explain how, or why they endorse conservative religious dogma on this issue (in clear violation of their own Statement of Religious Principle that claims the BSA is nonsectarian).
Besides the loss in diversity, the BSA’s ban on gays have turned away thousands of potential families from the Scouting program, who refuse to put their children in a program that says it is okay to discriminate. While I admit that accepting gays could lead to a short term loss of more conservative members, the long term data is clear: America is becoming more and more gay friendly, and if the BSA does not change their stance soon the American public will pass them by, and leave them behind in the pages of history.
Lastly, discrimination has greatly affected the public face of the BSA, harming their fundraising efforts, and therefore their ability to provide a strong program for their scouts. It’s no accident the BSA stopped hosting their National Jamboree at the US Military base Fort A.P Hill. They are being kicked out of schools and over government buildings for years, costing them thousands, to relocate. In the case of the Jamboree, it meant millions of dollars spent building their own, privately owned camp to continue discriminating in security. They have lost support from United Way branches across the nation, and there is a national movement to end United Way giving nationally, their largest across the board donor. Corporations including UPS, Intel, and Merrick have stopped their corporate donations, and Churches including the United Church of Christ have called for a change in the policy. This financial strain hurts Scouting deeply, increases costs on Scouts to attend camp, go on adventure trips, and learn the skills that makes Scouting so great.
The facts are just that, facts: Discrimination in Scouting hurts not only those forced from the group, but the BSA itself. We cannot provide the best Scouting program possible without ensuring the BSA is inclusive.

 

Oct 04

Ryan Andresen Earns Eagle, but BSA Kicks Him Out Instead of Presenting Award

In a case that seems to involve both sexual orientation discrimination and religious discrimination, Ryan Andresen, a scout who had finished his Eagle Project, has been kicked out of the scouting by the Boy Scouts of America, Inc. after his scoutmaster refused to sign off on the award, citing Ryan’s sexual orientation.  But a spokesperson from BSA’s National Headquarters piled on with this:

The Scouts’ national spokesman, Deron Smith, said late Thursday that Ryan contributed to his situation by disagreeing with the BSA’s religious principles.

“Recently, a Scout proactively notified his unit leadership and Eagle Scout Counselor that he does not agree to Scouting’s principle of “Duty to God” and does not meet Scouting’s membership standard on sexual orientation,” Smith wrote in a statement to Yahoo News. “While the BSA did not proactively ask for this information, based on his statements and after discussion with his family he is being informed that he is no longer eligible for membership in Scouting.”

Smith said belief in God is the foundation of scouting’s strong, continuing commitment to encouraging moral, ethical and spiritual growth. It is the position of the Boy Scouts of America that no one can reach their full potential without belief in a higher power.

Full article at Yahoo News here:  Boy Scout denied Eagle award after coming out

Sign Ryan’s Petition at Change.org 

Sep 11

In the News

BSA: Stop discriminating – Op-ed by Rev. Robert Bachelder, minister and president of the Worcester Area Mission Society, United Church of Christ.

Parents also need to speak up. Scouting played a vital role in our family but my wife, a former Cub Scout volunteer, and I agree we would not enroll our son in a troop today. The BSA’s position is contrary what we try to stand for in every other area of life. We would make an exception for a troop that publicly repudiates the BSA policy and reaches out to gay youth. A boy would learn in such a setting how to work and even fight for social justice.

New Jersey senator declines Boy Scout recognition due to policy disagreement - New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak declined an award from a Boy Scouts group in North Jersey because of BSA’s anti-gay policies.

In Scouting, tolerance is a two-way street – Editorial by a writer who compares homosexuality to “adultery, drunkenness, stealing, gossip, etc.” and then complains because his beliefs are criticized:

But tolerance goes both ways. Unfortunately, respecting the deep spiritual beliefs of people of faith is no longer tolerated by those advocating for the gay rights agenda. For not agreeing with this agenda, we are labeled hypocrites and bigots. But if we were to throw similar responses back, we would be accused of discrimination and being intolerant.

Opinion: Discrimination, homophobia distract from Boy Scouts’ mission – Author argues that, despite BSA’s claims that allowing LGBT people to join would be a “distraction” from scouting’s mission, that the real distraction is the BSA’s dogged determination to discriminate.

The Boy Scout Law says Scouts are to be brave — “He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him”; reverent — “He respects the beliefs of others”; kind — “He treats others as he wants to be treated”; and friendly — “A Scout is a friend to all. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.”

Until the BSA gets it right, Scouts everywhere should follow their oath and rebel.

The American homosexualist movement – Author waxes apocalyptic over support for LGBT civil rights, including pressures on the Boy Scouts of America.

Loving Men: Jesus, Homophobia and Male Spirituality – Rev. Jarrett Kerbel, Rector of Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia, opens a piece by talking about his experiences growing up gay in the Boy Scouts.

The “Atlantic” Editor: ‘Eradicate the Fags’ – Another absurd rant based on a misreading of this piece in The Atlantic.

9-Year-Old Quits Boy Scouts Over Gay Ban – More on the Cub Scout in Maine who decided to leave because of BSA’s anti-gay policies.